When I was graduating high school and heading into college, there were three films that I considered to be my favorites: Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, the very similar A Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick and Michael Lehmann’s dark high school masterpiece Heathers.
Not only did Heathers usher in a long-term crush on Winona Ryder (which was quickly squashed several years later by a pixie haircut, truly awful performances in films like Girl, Interrupted and a high profile shoplifting case), but it also helped whet my taste for independent and strangely dark cinema.
I have loved Heathers for years because of its daring storyline, its brilliant hyper-realism, its sardonic humor and its unflinching tone. However, a piece of news hit the entertainment wire this week that made me shudder more than if J.D. himself was pointing a gun filled with “ich luge” bullets at me.
The word that strikes fear in the hearts of Heathers lovers the world over: Remake. Add two more words, and it gets worse: Remake on TV.
What the fuck me gently with a chainsaw?
This could possibly be the worst idea in the history of cinema. Haven’t they already been trying to remake this movie in various forms, like Jawbreaker and Mean Girls? Remaking Heathers would be like remaking Psycho. It was a beautifully crafted film that clicked perfectly in its own era.
Then, they want to put it on television because, according to the news story in Variety, Lakeshore Entertainment’s president Gary Lucchesi said, “doing it for TV seemed like a fresh and original idea.”
I already see where this is going. They want to make a teenage version of Sex and the City featuring a wicked-mean clan of popular girls that rule the school. That might work if the CW didn’t already do that with Gossip Girl.
The sad thing about this whole concept is that the catch to Heathers wasn’t the cliques and the title of the film. It was a dark look at the idolization of teenage suicide victims and how popularity can be a double-edged sword. It also presented one of the best teen anti-heroes in decades with Christian Slater playing J.D.
In the post-Columbine age where all the major networks are wringing their hands about being politically correct, especially when presenting a television series to a teenage audience, do you think this is possible? I submit that the original film Heathers would be unfilmable now. After all, it dealt with teen murder, faking suicides and a whacked-out kid in a black trench coat who brings a gun to school and tries to blow up the frakking senior class during an assembly. That’s just not going to fly on telvision today.
If this idea comes to fruition, we’ll be left with a sanitized version of the original film. Or worse yet, the show would have the characters commit the same acts, then pretentiously shake its virtual finger at the audience while blaming the incidents on everything from Red Dye #40 to mercury preservatives in vaccines.
I’ve gotta ask this about the folks planning this God-forsaken remake: Did they have a brain tumor for breakfast?
Oh well, I’ve gotta motor if I wanna be ready for that party tonight.